« Discussion

SURVEY: Should Transworld Have Gone Ahead with their Scientology Exposé?

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

Author Lawrence Wright

Lawrence Wright is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Looming Tower, a book about the origins of Islamic religious fundamentalism and the terrorist group al-Queda. He’s not shy to tackle difficult, complicated and controversial subjects; and he’s no hack. His new book — Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, published January 17 in the United States by Knopf — takes on a subject as potentially fearsome: the church of Scientology.

The church is renown for intimidating would be whistle blowers, journalists and other potential detractors into silence, leaving relatively little published about the Church and its inner secrets. Wright’s book promises to be the most revealing yet. An excerpt published in The New Yorker, where Wright is on staff, documented some of the long, arduous meetings the magazine had with the Church in the run up to publication. You can bet that Knopf and Random House’s legal team has done the same (though are likely still holding their breath). Yet, in the UK, Transworld — like Knopf, a division of Random House and part of Bertelsmann — recently cancelled publication of the book, the details of which are explained in today’s feature story.

But, despite the risks, should Transworld have gone ahead with publication?

Should Transworld Have Gone Ahead with their Scientology Exposé?

  • Yes, they should have gone ahead immediately, trusting the author, Knopf and UK legal system to prove them right (57%, 34 Votes)
  • Yes, albeit after making the necessary changes, allowing them to fulfill their obligation to Wright and readers (18%, 11 Votes)
  • No, by the time the book could be edited to UK legal standards, all the scoops would have been revealed, curtailing sales (17%, 10 Votes)
  • No, the immediate threat of libel and legal expenses was too high to justify (8%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 60

Loading ... Loading ...
This entry was posted in Discussion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

3 Comments

  1. P. Cook
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Says the saleslady, “We took legal advice, as we do with a lot of our books, and that advice was that the content was not robust enough for the UK.”

    Sign of the times, eh? “Robust,” before its reconstitution as a masterfully enervating weasel word, used to be a bad thing, didn’t it? (viz., “Oh! It offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags…”)

    So now the stiff, the oaken, the “robust” serves as litmus?

    A modest proposal: Hire sharper lawyers and recalculate. Add up the free column inches and TV minutes that a lawsuit would generate (of course, subtracting out the hourly legal fees). But then add in the circus value of getting these particularly colorful would-be plaintiffs into the witness box and onto the record. After subpoenas are served and proceedings begin, the free would soon transmute itself into the priceless.

  2. Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    It must be remembered that England is under pressure to relax its dreadful libel laws whose maxim is “the greater the truth, the greater the libel”. If a vox pop were to be conducted among people who fit the “man on the Clapham omnibus” description, of those who had even heard of Scientology, nine-tenths at least would describe it with the C-word and dismiss it. All the libel laws in the world will not protect Scientology from its reputation, in fact the more it threatens and sues the worse its reputation becomes.

  3. Andrea Garner
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Transworld, shame on you. You had such an opportunity to be a part of something good and you cowered.

  • SIGN UP NOW!
    Enter your email address below to receive daily news updates from Publishing Perspectives.
    Click here to learn more about our newsletters
  • Monetize Your Backlist

    Organized by Publishing Perspectives

    Hear experts from publishing and technology discuss strategies and tools you can use to generate more revenue from your backlist content.

    What: Monetizing the Backlist event
    When: 9am–1pm on April 24, 2014
    Where: Scholastic Headquarters, NYC

    Buy your tickets now!